The FBI interviewed former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone and his deputy Patrick Philbin about boxes of classified information that were kept at the 45th president’s Florida resort after he left office, according to a new report Tuesday.
The New York Times, citing three sources, reported that Cipollone and Philbin were tasked as Trump’s post-presidency representatives in dealing with the National Archives, which is responsible for storing presidential papers under federal law.
According to the paper, when the Archives realized some White House documents were missing, they turned to Philbin to try to help retrieve them.
Trump reportedly resisted attempts to get him to return the papers, saying at one point: “It’s not theirs, it’s mine.”
Ultimately, 15 boxes were returned to the Archives from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in January of this year. The following month, the Archives revealed that classified material had been found in the boxes and that it had contacted the Justice Department about potential violations of the Presidential Records Act.
That touched off a chain of events that culminated in the FBI launching an unprecedented raid on the former president’s home Aug. 8. According to an inventory list made public last week, agents left with 27 boxes and 11 sets of documents containing classified information.
The Times reported that Philbin was interviewed in the spring as federal investigators contacted Trump confidants to determine how the boxes of sensitive documents wound up at the palatial resort in Palm Beach.
It wasn’t clear when Cipollone was interviewed, the outlet added.
On June 3, DOJ and FBI officials arrived at Mar-a-Lago with a grand jury subpoena for any additional classified material.
Following a meeting between law enforcement and Trump’s legal team, one of the former president’s lawyers reportedly signed a statement confirming that all classified documents had been returned.
The FBI then received a tip that more sensitive materials were present at Mar-a-Lago than had been previously indicated and the Times reported that subpoenaed surveillance video showed the boxes had been moved from the room where they had been stored.
That led to the search warrant FBI agents executed last week.